I'm delighted that you seem to be enjoying my Ireland stories; writing them is pleasant for me because it keeps the vacation in the front of my mind for a few extra days.
It was hard to leave Wicklow; it was such a magical place. So verdant, so quiet, so friendly. Our hotel was not in town, but on the edge of the Glendalough Wood Nature Reserve, nearly 50,000 acres of forest, bogland and lakes. Our first day, right off the plane and jet-lagged, we took a seven-mile walk (to call it a "hike" would be exaggerating, since most of it was along a paved path) through the reserve and past the lower and upper lakes, all the way to an abandoned silver- and lead-mining settlement and then back again. It was wonderful to be staying right in the middle of so much beauty.
Glendalough was first settled in the 7th century by St. Kevin, who holed up in a cave along the Upper Lake, seeking solitude, but instead drew hordes of pilgrims. You can only get to his cave by boat, so we didn't, but you can see it clearly from the other side of the lake. It looks like a hell of a place to live. In a manner of speaking.
Also at Glendalough are the famous Round Tower, which dates to the 10th century, and the Monastic Village, now mostly gravestones and an ancient stone church. (St. Kevin's Church, of course.)
Our hotel room looked out on adorable touristy trailers that sold ice cream, t-shirts and hamburgers, all named for St. Kevin. (You'd think he was patron saint of entrepreneurs; the Dublin-Wicklow bus is also named after him.)
It was so quiet, so beautiful, so bird-filled and sheep-filled and green that the day we hiked to tiny Wicklow Town along the coast the town itself was a shock. Cars! People! Shops! Noise!
We had started at the village of Kilcoole and followed a nature preserve 10 miles along the windy coastline to Wicklow. Christopher lent us binoculars, sun screen, and a bird book. "I don't care about the binoculars," he said. 'But I do the bird book. Guard that book with your life." Doug made me carry it, and I was in a constant state of panic that I had somehow lost it.
It was useful, though, for putting names to the birds -- cormorants, terns, gulls, ducks, oystercatchers, herons, egrets and swans. It was a gorgeous long walk, the big sky dark with rainclouds, the wind whipping through the grass.
At lunchtime, we sat and laughed at the terns--they fold themselves up like arrows and plunge straight down into the water. Again and again.
In Wicklow, we stopped for tea and carrot cake and then got our bearings by asking a passer-by; she was wearing what Doug called a "Dublin coat" (that is; she was well-dressed) and when we first asked where the city center was, she looked confused. 'Do you mean Dublin?" she said. No, Wicklow town, we answered, to which she replied, "Wicklow is a very small town. It has no city center." We were looking for two landmarks: the old jail, which Christopher had recommended we tour, and the Grand Hotel, where he would pick us up.
"I'll show you," she said, and even though she was clearly in a hurry, she took the time to lead us down the street and up the hill and point out the two buildings, which were at opposite ends of town. And then she hurried on.
We were back at Glendalough by dinner time, enjoying our mammoth evening meal, the gentle rain--most days the rain held off until just before sunset--the green and verdant quiet. Two days later, we were in Dublin. And oh, you thought Wicklow was disorientingly busy and crowded! Oh my!